The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trescothick happy with underdog tag

Perth: The England team arrived in Australia Friday quietly optimistic about their chances of regaining the Ashes even as captain Nasser Hussain made it clear that variety in bowling held the key to beating the hosts.

Opener Marcus Trescothick laughed off suggestions that the Australians would crush his team, insisting England were only too happy to be written off as underdogs. “It probably takes a bit of pressure off us,” Trescothick said shortly after the squad landed.

The England captain said a varied bowling attack is the key to claiming the Ashes from Australia for the first time since 1986-87. But for that to happen Hussain feels the England players needed to stay fit.

Fast bowler Darren Gough is expected to miss the opening two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide next month with a knee injury and Andy Flintoff is slowly recovering from a double hernia operation. “I think the key is having your full variety of bowling,” Hussain said

“The kookaburra ball does get soft after 15-20 overs and for too long England have just had a nice, pitch-it-up swing bowler or something that comes on to the bat nicely. We’ve just got to try and rough a few people up and hopefully with (Steve) Harmison and (Simon) Jones, we’ve got that in our armoury.”

Queensland paceman Simon Kasprowicz, who played with Jones for Glamorgan earlier this year, rates the 23-year-old Jones as one of the quickest bowlers in the game. The pace duo will be vying for a spot in the first Test line-up alongside Andrew Caddick, Mathew Hoggard and Flintoff. Hussain clearly wants all his bowlers firing.

On the issue of sledging, Hussain said he had read about the verbal duel between Australian opener Matt Hayden and Pakistan bowler Shoaib Akhtar in the recent first Test in Colombo.

“I just think that’s part of world cricket at the moment. But if you give it, make sure you can take it as well,” he said. “That’s the problem when you’re a batter. You’re always one ball away from getting out and getting a final verbal.”

However, Trescothick and his skipper’s optimism notwithstanding, everything still points to an easy victory for Steve Waugh’s men. Australia have beaten England in the last seven Ashes series, matching the longest winning streak by either nation since they first locked horns in 1876-77.

In their most recent meeting in England a year ago, Australia crushed the home side to win 4-1. It could have been 5-0 if not for a generous declaration by Australia’s fill-in captain Adam Gilchrist, but Trescothick said he was hopeful things would be different this time.

“Somewhere along the line it has to change,” he said.“These things do go in phases...hopefully it is this series.”

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